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Evangelism’s Fine Is Reduced

But former licensee still owes $20,000.

The Federal Communications Commission gave Paulino Bernal Evangelism a $5,000 reduction of a fine for failing to maintain a main studio in its community of license, to have operational EAS equipment and to make its public inspection file available. But a $20,000 fine remains.

PBE is former licensee of KBRN(AM), Boerne, Texas. During an inspection five years ago, an agent discovered the transmitter shed was the station’s main studio and the only person working for the station in Boerne was an unpaid volunteer. The volunteer was able to provide transmitter information and technical manuals, but no other documentation for the station.

That’s when the FCC issued a $25,000 fine; PBE appealed, citing an inability to pay and a history of compliance. PBE argued that it did not violate the main studio nor public inspection file rules. The broadcaster said the volunteer did not speak English that well and didn’t understand the agent’s request.

A station is obligated to ensure that the public can access the public file during business hours and the agency said that didn’t happen in this case. The commission also said in its decision that an unpaid volunteer does not satisfy the staffing requirements of a main studio, where there must be a “meaningful presence,” at a minimum, of full-time managerial and staff personnel during business hours.

The agency reduced the fine because of the broadcaster’s history of compliance with FCC rules.